By Ali A. Jenabzadeh

Israel has established its presence on Yemeni islands: Yemeni ambassador

September 5, 2021 - 19:24

TEHRAN – Yemen’s ambassador to Tehran, Ibrahim Mohammad Mohammad al-Deilami, confirms Israel’s presence in Yemeni territories, especially in a number of strategic islands.

“There is also an Israeli presence, especially in Yemeni territorial waters and some strategic islands, whether on Hanish Island, Mayun Island, or even on Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea,” al-Deilami tells the Tehran Times.

Although Saudi Arabia is known for its leading role in the war on Yemen, Israel’s presence backed by American-British green light no longer is hidden.   

“This is no longer a secret as the aggressors have recognized the presence of their forces on Yemeni soil. This is not hidden and there is no attempt to cover it up by the aggressor countries,” the Yemeni ambassador says.

Some Yemeni sources accuse the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia of letting Israel on the Yemeni islands.

The Yemeni ambassador to Tehran says expelling all foreign forces from Yemeni territories is an important pre-condition to reach a political agreement on the crisis in his country.  

“Therefore, one of the most important items presented to the United Nations envoy and everyone looking for a political solution was the necessity of expelling foreign forces from Yemeni lands,” he insisted.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Recently we have heard a lot about the developments and battles in Marib, Al-Bayda and other areas in Yemen. Could you update us about the latest developments on the ground, especially the battle of Marib and the balance of power on the ground?

A: I would like to emphasize that the battle is not confined to Marib and Al-Bayda. Rather, there are many battlefields that their number reach fifty areas in various parts of Yemen, in which the Yemeni army and the popular committees fight against aggression.

 The Yemenis are trying to deter the aggressors and confront the mercenary militias, whether they are Sudanese or Yemeni militias supported by Emirati-Saudi presence, especially on the border fronts. Therefore, the recent hype about Marib is the result of focus on this region in the international media.

Calling battle in Yemen civil war is unfair and great injustice against Yemenis.But we in the Republic of Yemen, according to the military plans carried out by the army, the popular committees and the Yemeni armed forces, are now going through the third phase of the plan to liberate the Marib Governorate.

 This province, as you know, embraces fourteen districts, and the number of liberated districts reaches more than nine, while the battles remain confined to approximately three districts. 

In the third phase of our plan to liberate Marib governorate, we will continue this process unless the other side succumbs to calls for peace and attempts to stop the war.

Actually, the initiative put forward by our leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi regarding the governorate of Marib is a fair proposal for Marib and all the Yemeni people, because it includes partnership in power and wealth of the province.

 There are also just humane demands for the Yemeni people, such as the necessity of providing electricity from Marib, securing the roads and removing the camps and expelling members of al-Qaeda and ISIS who are present in this Yemeni province. We call for the exit of foreign forces in their entirety from this province and others.

With regard to the situation in Marib, we stress that the military operation is proceeding according to the steps planned and endorsed by the chief of staff in the capital, Sana'a, and the Ministry of Defense.

We have given way to attempts for peaceful solutions, and if there is compliance by the other side, we will welcome that. Otherwise, the military options will continue until the liberation of this province and all occupied areas in Yemen.

Q: Speaking of developments on the ground, we know there are two sides in the Yemen war; there is a party that is represented by the government in Sana'a and the Popular Committees, while there is another based in Marib and other areas, which is called by pro-Saudi media the "legitimacy". However, everyone knows that the so-called “legitimacy forces” are bankrolled by foreign countries. In your opinion, who is leading the battle against the Yemeni government in Marib and other regions?

A: Regarding the truth of the conflict in Yemen, there are two parties: the Yemeni side, which is represented by the revolutionary and political leadership in Sana’a, along with the army forces and the popular committees, and behind them the Yemeni people.

The opposite side is represented by the U.S.-Saudi-led coalition against our country, which uses various means to achieve its goals, including Yemeni mercenaries and terrorist groups linked to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

The United Nations made a blunder, and the international media continues the same path in dealing with the war on Yemen when they portray it as a conflict between Yemeni groups. But this is not true.

We are facing an external invasion against a country called the Republic of Yemen, which is a member of the international community.

This is a conspiracy that aims to undermine Yemen, divide it, violate its sovereignty, and practice various types of collective punishment against the Yemeni people, through besieging Yemen.

  On the other hand, there is a national resistance front that confronts this invasion and confronts the aggressors in various arenas, whether on the military, security, economic, or media levels.

Therefore, describing such a battle as a civil war is unfair and a great injustice against Yemen and the Yemenis.

However, there is clear Saudi-American aggression; this is neither the Yemenis nor the Saudis who hamper the political process. It is U.S. President Joe Biden who is trying to prevent ending the war in an attempt to impose its agenda on Yemen. 

Israel has established its presence on Yemeni islands: Yemeni ambassador

One of Biden's most important electoral slogans was to stop the war in Yemen. So, if the U.S. was not entangled in this war and it was between the Yemenis or even between the (Yemenis and) Saudis, they would not have contributed to stopping it.

As I told you, although the implementation and tools are on the shoulders of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, the main responsible for this war is the U.S., as it acknowledges itself.

If America is not a contributor to this war, why does the U.S. president send a special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, who bypasses even the U.S. ambassador in Yemen? 

As I told you, America has a leading role, whether within the United Nations or at the media and political level.

The first condition of Yemen is exit of foreign forces, whether they are American, British, Saudi, Emirati, or Israeli. Even in determining the agendas of the ceasefire and the political process, the first and most prominent decision-maker is the United States.

But, there is another Yemeni side facing aggression, i.e. the army, the popular committees, and the government in Sana'a.

Everyone should know that the invasion is planned by America while the execution is Saudi-Emirati.

Indeed, the Americans are participating in the siege and bombing and providing the coalition of aggression with intelligence information. Add to this the arming of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

As well, a number of European countries led by France, Britain and Germany have contributed to arming the Saudi-led coalition.

Q: You mentioned the role of Britain, France and Germany in Yemen. We want to know whether there are Saudi forces in the field, whether at the level of leadership or fighters on the ground. There are also reports pointing to the presence of British forces in Yemen. Do you confirm these reports?

A: This is no longer a secret as the aggressors have recognized the presence of their forces on Yemeni soil.

 This is not hidden and there is no attempt to cover it up by the coalition of aggression.

The U.S. forces are present at the Al-Anad airbase in Lahj governorate and are present at the airport of the Mahra governorate, as well as on the Yemeni islands within brigades and military factions. The British announced during the past few days the presence of the Rapid Reaction Forces in Al-Mahra Governorate.

The Saudis and Emiratis announce the presence of their forces, experts, and military advisors inside Yemen, whether on the Yemeni-Saudi border, or in Marib, Aden, and Hadramawt.

Emirati forces are still present on Socotra Island, Mayun Island, and at Mukalla Airport in Hadhramaut Governorate, as well as at Aden Airport.

Therefore, one of the most important items presented to the United Nations envoy and everyone looking for a political solution was the necessity of expelling the foreign forces from Yemeni lands.

There is also an Israeli presence, especially in Yemeni territorial waters and some strategic islands, whether on Hanish Island, Mayun Island or even on Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea.

This presence is no longer hidden, and aggressors feel no shame for the presence of their military forces on Yemeni lands. So, the first condition of the Yemeni government is the exit of foreign forces as a priority, whether these forces are American, British, Saudi, Emirati or Israeli.

Q: The United Nations has appointed Hans Grundberg as its new special envoy for Yemen. Gruenberg’s predecessor, Martin Griffiths, as well as the U.S. envoy to Yemen stated that their efforts failed after regional tours and talks with both sides of the conflict. What are the main reasons for Griffith’s failure? Is Grundberg following in the footsteps of his predecessor?

A: Let's not take it too far. In fact, the international community and the United Nations suffer from weakness as a result of the dominance of the American decision on this organization.

Add to this the involvement of the so-called five permanent members of the Security Council that have undermined this international institution, as it prevented the transfer of power by the Security Council to the General Assembly in the United Nations.
Let's talk in principle.

 Therefore, the faults of the delegates, representatives, or envoys in this international organization are due to the weakness of the institution itself.

Eventually, there are people who represent this international will.

But from my point of view, although the problem was related to the international envoys and their characters, we must not forget that the international resolutions are notorious.

It was Resolution 2216 on Yemen that restricted the envoys' initiatives and obliged them to do something that was not realistic; this international resolution portrayed the war on Yemen as a civil war and forgot the presence of foreign forces in this issue.

There are also countries that relied on this resolution to practice maritime piracy and aggression against our country. Although the international resolution does not allow this, they used it as an excuse.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are executive arms of the U.S. in war on YemenI think that the new international envoy will not be different from Griffiths, because he is obliged to work based on the same bases that we talked about, which reflects the weakness of the United Nations.

Therefore, if the United Nations wants to have a new initiative in the Yemeni crisis, it must start from two basic premises: The first is that there is external aggression against Yemen, and the war is not intra-Yemeni.

The United Nations must have the courage to engage in this issue without being constrained by the resolutions, which have proven their failure and inability to be applied, given their contradictions with reality in form and nature.

The other point is that the United Nations must take into account the fact that Yemen, especially after seven years of war, requires a new approach that guarantees its sovereignty, independence.

Regardless of politicization, the exit of foreign forces from Yemen, the preservation of its unity and the integrity of its territory are essential. 

However, there are plans that may be presented to the United Nations to divide and re-partition Yemen.

Q: Do you think that the new UN special envoy for Yemen is biased towards one party or the other?

A: We cannot judge because he has not assumed his position yet.

Q: What about Griffiths?

A: I listened to Martin Griffiths in his briefing to the Security Council after he became Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

 I saw a strange difference in his attitudes when he was appointed as envoy for humanitarian affairs after he ended his mission as a special envoy to Yemen.

When he was an envoy, we asked him to suggest opening Sana’a airport and the port of Hodeidah and lifting the siege on our country, considering it as a humanitarian affair, but he did not talk clearly about these proposals.

There are plans that may be presented to the UN to re-partition YemenBut when he became an Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, he began to speak about this. He was supposed to speak clearly against the siege as a representative of the United Nations.

We consider that Griffith was one of those who were drawn to British policy, and he was not an honest envoy to Yemen.

He did not play an active role in ending this tragic war that our people are suffering from for seven years.

He was an agent through his international position to practice many types of suppression and continuation of the siege against the Yemenis.

Only one thing is mentioned in his record; the Stockholm Agreement, which was held during the days when Griffiths was United Nations envoy for Yemen. However, this agreement, as Griffith's only achievement, failed to be realized.
This comes as a result of the biases of many international envoys and also some international institutions, as I mentioned earlier.

Q: Sana'a demands a separation of the humanitarian aspects of the Yemen crisis from political issues. However, the other side rejects this. In your opinion, what is the reason behind linking the humanitarian issues with politics?

A: The reason is clear. They want to gain through siege and pressure what they could not achieve through war and direct military aggression.

Therefore, the continuation of the siege and the exercise of pressure is no longer acceptable at all because it affects the lives of Yemenis and deviates from the dignity, sovereignty and independence of Yemen.

Given Martin Griffith's new position, we hope he would try to correct the mistakes when he was the UN envoy to Yemen, he will speed up pressure on the aggressors at the United Nations to separate the humanitarian issues from the political and military aspects. This is one of our rights and we will not forgo it, and it is neither a requirement, nor a condition, but part of our rights.

Q: Returning to the new envoy, is there a draft resolution or any initiative to resolve the conflict in Yemen?

A: As the United Nations announced, the new UN envoy is supposed to take up his job on September 5th, and therefore he has not received his duties yet and has not taken any step regarding Yemen.

But we advise the United Nations and the new envoy, before he takes over his job, to have a new look and a different approach to the Yemeni issue based on two points that were raised to him; namely the belief in the need for Yemen to restore its independence, sovereignty and complete territorial integrity as well as the need for a political process under the auspices of the United Nations apart from Security Council resolutions. 

Q: Give the calm role that Oman is playing in regard to the Yemen crisis, could you update us about the nature of this role? Is there any Omani initiative that differs from those of the United Nations? Is there an Omani mediation?

A: Let's talk about Oman as a priority in Yemen’s foreign policy given the neighborhood and geographical proximity, as well as the ties of kinship and history between the two countries.

 We also do not forget that since the first days of aggression against Yemen, which was called at that period “Decisive Storm,” Oman clearly declared that it is not part of the Saudi-led coalition and demanded peaceful solutions. They refused to resort to the use of force in order to impose demands.

Israel has established its presence on Yemeni islands: Yemeni ambassador

We also do not forget the humanitarian role played by the Sultanate of Oman when it allowed the flow of humanitarian aid across the Yemeni-Omani border, as well as allowing Yemenis from different regions to use Omani airspace and airports for travel, especially after the tightening of the land, sea and air blockade on Yemen.

Such Omani actions are welcomed by Yemen, and this qualifies it to play a pivotal role in the political process.

 But I want to stress that the Omanis and others are keen not to bypass the United Nations and that any agreement or understanding must be passed through the UN and the international community.

The Omani role is a facilitator of the political process, and they emphasize the need to stop the aggression against Yemen.

Omanis believe that the unity and stability of Yemen must be preserved, and the solution should be based on Yemeni-Yemeni talks without the interference of any external party; that is why we welcome such a role now.

Q: Who plays the main role in the Yemen conflict? Britain or America?

A: They are two sides of the same coin. Given its colonial legacy, as well as its dominance over the decision-making in the Security Council, and its notorious role in the intelligence fields, Britain bears a great resemblance to the U.S.

 Add to this Britain’s military presence in Yemen, and arming Saudi Arabia and the Emirates with the latest and most deadly weapons.

 Both of them follow the same policies, but America is at the forefront, especially at the leadership level.

 Nevertheless, we believe there are four countries directly responsible for this aggression: America comes first after Britain, and after these two comes Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, which has adopted an implementing role.

This does not mean that there are no other countries or organizations associated with or involved in this aggression, such as France, Belgium and even Germany, that continue to arm the aggressors.

 We have also a Sudanese involvement, but we believe that the so-called Quartet that was formed, which is America, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, is more directly responsible than others for the situation in Yemen and what happened after seven years.

Q: Saudi Arabia has announced that it wants the resigned government (of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi) to return to Sana'a. It seems Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have different visions regarding Yemen, at least at the media level. What do you think the Emirates want in Yemen specifically?

A: Your question takes us back to the very beginning days of the war on Yemen. What brought the Emirates into Yemen?

I confirm here that the side that engineered the aggression and planned it was the U.S. who plans to divide the regions in Yemen, to push the Emirates into this aggression alongside Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are executive arms of the U.S. in war on Yemen, which is led and directed by the Americans. Therefore, the entry of the Emirates was not with Saudi approval or its demand, but rather it was imposed by the United States of America as the designer of this project. As for the issue of the return of the government that the Saudis are talking about, why didn’t they return it to Aden? They have occupied Aden and are present in Hadramawt and even in Marib. Why was this government, which became a pretext for waging a war on Yemen, did not return to the areas they call the “liberated areas?”

The causes are bigger and deeper than the return of government, legitimacy, or anything else.

Their project aims to tear and divide Yemen, control its geopolitical position and wealth, cut off the large parts of Yemen and deprive the people of their human rights and their sovereignty.

 Therefore, despite the Emirati and Saudi differences that have begun to surface, we must not forget that America manages and controls their differences while trying to suggest there are differences inside the Saudi-led coalition. In the end, they are puppets and the U.S. is pulling the string in Yemen.

Q: So, we understood from your words that the Emirates is seeking to divide Yemen.

A: Of course, I mean, there is an interest for Saudi Arabia and the Emirates in this regard. In fact, the side that aims to divide and tear Yemen apart is the Americans and the British, and they use the Emirates to advance their project.

Q: Given the state of war dominating the bilateral relations between Sana’a and Riyadh, how do you see the future of relations between two capitals?

A: It must be admitted that Saudi Arabia is an aggressor who committed a flagrant crime against Yemen and the Yemenis, killing tens of thousands of people, and blockaded millions of Yemenis, and practiced disgusting media propaganda against the Yemeni people. We also never forget what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is doing in terms of continuous humiliation against Yemeni immigrants and workers inside Saudi Arabia.

The future of relations between Yemen and Saudi Arabia will be determined by Saudi behavior. If the Saudi behavior remains unjust and criminal, as is the case today, we will confront this behavior by various means.

But if Saudi Arabia changes its wrong behavior towards Yemen and compensate for the damage it has caused in Yemen and no longer interfere in its political, economic and social affairs, it will pave the way to restoring relations on the basis of good neighborliness and respect for the sovereignty.

The Saudis must apologize for what they did against Yemen and the Yemenis and respect the independence of our country, or else they will be responsible for all consequences of their behavior, whether security, military and political levels.

But this talk is premature, and we cannot predict future relations in light of the continued aggression and siege. Saudi Arabia continues its involvement in projects to undermine Yemen’s unity and independence. The Saudi participation in projects that harm Arab and Islamic national security, especially the relationship with the Zionist regime, spoils the horizon of establishing good ties with Yemen.

Q: Iran had previously put forward an initiative that included several points to resolve the Yemeni crisis, but the initiative was not welcomed by some parties. Is there a new Iranian initiative?

A: The Iranian initiative, when it was proposed in the first days of the aggression, faced a deaf ear and no one responded to the initiative; it was to address the crisis in the early days of the aggression. Consequently, the Iranian initiative was in constant need of updating after seven years of war, as well as the failure and defeat of Saudi Arabia and America, to impose their demands on the Yemeni people. Iran should take into account the sacrifices made by the Yemenis.

Iran's calls to stop the aggression, lift the siege and resort to political solutions are welcome, but Iran at the end of the day, in the eyes of aggressors, is a party to the battle and therefore its efforts and initiatives are not acceptable.

The Islamic Republic, in its stance on the side of the Yemeni resistance and its legitimate right to restore its security, sovereignty and independence, has provided a good help for Yemen in light of the silence of the world and the complicity of all countries against Yemen.
I believe that consolidating relations between Yemen and Iran is the first and most important priority.

 Strengthening relations at various levels between the two countries is more important than talking about political solutions or initiatives that would not be accepted or negotiated by the aggressor countries and even by the United Nations.

Q: The new government has taken the power in Iran with a new vision. How does the government of Ibrahim Raisi view Yemeni-Iranian ties?

A: Let us say at this stage that Iran, since the start of the aggression against Yemen, has stood by the Yemeni people at the official level, by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution or state officials as well as people’s support.

We are hopeful that with the coming of the new government there will be a tangible change in bilateral relations for the better.

We look forward to strengthening economic relations and cooperation in the field of infrastructure and the relief and humanitarian aspect, as well as in what qualifies Yemen to confront aggression at various military, economic and other levels.

Q: What do you expect from the Iranian diplomacy towards Yemen now that Hossein Amir Abdollahian, who is known as a seasoned diplomat and expert in regional affairs, has been appointed as Iran’s new foreign minister?

A: The fact is that we cannot impose on the Iranians what to do. Mr. Amir Abdollahian is my friend and we have a close connection.

He is a very well-respected diplomat, and we are confident that his appointment as the head of the Foreign Ministry will enhance Iran's presence and role at the regional and international levels.

This is assumed because of our acquaintance with the new foreign minister and his serious proposals for strengthening the role of the Islamic Republic at regional and international levels.

With regard to the ties with Yemen, I think that the Foreign Ministry under the previous administration did a lot, especially in supporting Yemen and demonstrating Yemen's grievances at the international level. What they did is an appreciable and commendable effort.
 However, we hope under Ibrahim Raisi’s presidency, there will be improvement and strengthening of relations between the Republic of Yemen and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 Certainly, the appointment of Abdollahian as the head of the Foreign Ministry will enhance the Iranian diplomatic presence at regional and international levels. 

Certainly, Yemen will enjoy greater support given Mr. Abdollahian’s attitudes towards the region, and we hope to witness the strengthening of diplomatic relations between Iran and Yemen.

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